Proposals for the newest Limerick footbridge have run into quite a lot of criticism, though the reason for that might simply be due to the way it was reported by the local newspaper. This is no great criticism of the Limerick Leader by the way, since the nature of such papers by definition is fairly superficial.
The formula is simple. You have two choices.
Choice 1. Send out a reporter with no understanding of the underlying technicalities, assemble a story with a quote from a local councillor condemning the plan, an inane comment from the ever-available local resident and contrast it with the opinion of the equally-ubiquitous one man. Illustrate it with a snap from our own photog or even better a graphic provided by the Council, and you have a ready-made condemnation of a plan that was prepared with great effort by people who actually thought about the design.
Choice 2. Send out a reporter with no understanding of the underlying technicalities and have them slavishly report whatever PR tosh they’re thrown by the local authority.
In this case the Limerick Leader opted for Choice 2 but that’s local papers for you, and the Limerick Leader is no different. The modus operandi exists everywhere in the world and it’s fine if you’re interested in death notices and soccer results, but if you want hard information, the local rag is not your go-to source.
Many people I respect greatly have criticised the proposal for a new bridge, but this time I’m going to withhold judgement until I see how it works out. If anything, from what I’ve seen so far, the plan isn’t radical enough. What would be wrong with using the existing weir as the structural base for a walkway that follows the flow of the water all the way to the Shannon rowing club? Now that would really be spectacular, if wow-factor is what they’re looking for. What would be wrong with cantilevering the walkway over the river so that people could experience at first hand the primal roar of the water as it rushes across the weir? This is perfectly feasible in engineering terms and considering how limp the marina project has proven to be, perhaps it would finally take advantage of the huge undertaking involved in constructing the weir.
I’m not buying into the condemnation yet, until we see precisely what the logic is, but I would say that the logic needs to be challenged in a positive way. Instead of the usual Limerick knee-jerk conditioned response, the safe old it-will-never-work answer, how about looking at the plans and suggesting how they could be even better?
Wouldn’t that be the imaginative way for our town to go instead of constantly finding fault with things and wallowing in the old, the safe and the familiar?